Science & Technology



Jim Rossman: Is there a ‘best wireless plan’?


Published in Science & Technology News

I received an email from a reader asking which cell carriers had the best plan for senior citizens.

Wow is that a loaded question.

My first suggestion would be to do some internet searching. You can find a lot of web articles touting the best plans for seniors in 2024. There are some great comparisons to be found at sites like CNET and Wirecutter.

One thing you’ll quickly learn is there are way too many choices. Even among individual carriers, the number of brands and plans is mind boggling.

Note: I’m not mentioning plan prices in this column. Cell companies are very competitive, and there are frequent discounts and promos, so any pricing I might include is liable to be not correct at any given time.

I’ll use my own service as an example.

I personally use Visible by Verizon, which is Verizon’s least expensive pre-paid service, but it offers the fewest support options (only email, chat or social media). There are no Visible stores or support numbers for you to call if you have a problem or question.

Verizon also offers a more expensive pre-paid service called Total by Verizon, which offers cell service on Verizon’s network and has more support options, including stores for you to visit to purchase services or ask questions. Total also offers phone support 7 days per week.

Finally, Verizon offers their top-tier cell service Verizon Wireless, which not only includes all the support options, but also bundled enticements (perks) like reduced pricing on streaming services like Netflix, Disney + or Apple Music.

All these Verizon-owned services use the same towers. The less expensive plans might include limits on the data you can use each month without paying extra. They also include a feature called data prioritization, which means that when the network is busy, your data speeds are slowed down.


Look for the fine print when you are shopping. I’m going into detail about my service because I’m most familiar with it.

Visible offers two plans – basic and plus. Plus includes 50 gigabytes of premium data each month, which does not get slowed down during busy times. Visible Plus also includes 5G ultrawide band coverage, while Visible Basic’s unlimited data is all prioritized and does not include the faster 5G Ultra-Wideband service. Visible does not offer conveniences like family plans. Each person on Visible needs their own account. I set up four Visible accounts for family members, but I also set up a new email account for each, but they all have autopay set up from the same credit card.

I don’t mean for this to sound like a Verizon commercial. I don’t get any discounts from Verizon for using or writing about their services. I pay the same as everyone else.

You may have better service in your area from T-Mobile or AT&T.

Both of those companies offer their services in several tiers. Cricket is AT&T’s pre-paid service that still has its own stores. T-Mobile offers a no-frills pre-paid plan called Connect by T-Mobile.

You can also buy services from a company like Consumer Cellular, which is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). This means they buy service from one or more of the big three carriers and rebrand it as their own and try to make it more enticing by offering lower pricing and better support services.

Consumer Cellular uses towers from AT&T and T-Mobile. Their plans are very popular with seniors and they offer discounts for AARP members. US Mobile and Mint Mobile are also very popular.

My advice is to go with whatever service you are most comfortable using. If you are a techie like me, the less expensive pre-paid offerings are fine, because I’m not afraid to navigate online options for service. My mom is also benefiting from my tech expertise, as I’m her phone support. We’ve been on Visible Basic since January, and it has been trouble free (knock on wood).

If you are more comfortable on the phone or going into a store when you have an issue or want to pay a bill, opt for one of the higher priced offerings that offers the support level you need.

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